The Town of Gilbert, Arizona Improves Services for Citizens

 

The Town of Gilbert is Arizona’s sixth-largest municipality, the fifth-largest town in the greater Phoenix metro area, and a consistently top-rated place to live and learn. The Town of Gilbert’s Office of Information Technology provides technical services for the town’s 250,000 residents. In addition to maintaining hardware, such as municipal computers, telephones, and networking systems, they are responsible for providing connectivity for a wide range of software and applications, as well as supporting municipal websites, GIS mapping, digital documentation, and more. Considering itself a strategic partner that provides technology services critical to the town’s goals and objectives, Gilbert’s Office of Information Technology manages 1,500 employees to serve its residents. To that end, their main focus is providing quick and efficient customer service to customers and vendor partners. Their mission is to maintain the integrity, reliability, and confidentiality of all systems and data entrusted to them.

Challenge

Other remote access options were too complex, unwieldy, and expensive for the Town of Gilbert.

When providing application services to hundreds of thousands of residents, ensuring that all systems and data are easy to access – while remaining completely secure – is critical. The Town of Gilbert’s Office of Information Technology found that their previous vendor management program was too complex, unwieldy, and expensive to be sustainable over time. They were looking for a solution that would offer remote access with the flexibility they needed, providing airtight access as well as complete control over and insight into users’ activity.

“VPNs [have] been around for years. It’s somewhat heavy, and it’s client-based.” —Sasan Poureetezadi, CTO for the Town of Gilbert’s Office of Information Technology

Solution

SecureLink offers a clientless and web-based application to deliver services, which was an advantage when the Town of Gilbert was comparing solutions.

“A big part of what we have to be able to do when a third-party vendor accesses our systems is we need to be able to audit it,” Poureetezadi said. Allowing easy, secure remote access to all necessary parties was top priority, according to Eugene Mejia, Gilbert’s Office of Information Technology Deputy Chief Technology Officer. This is especially important when relying on vendors to provide support and troubleshooting.

As an organization working within the public sector, they also needed their solution to be cost-effective. While Gilbert’s Office of Information Technology had tried VPN providers in the past, they could never find the right fit. Setting up VPN access for each separate external vendor was often cumbersome, and at times daunting from a security standpoint. “It’s a nightmare when you start to think about it, with the onboarding separation process,” said Mejia, who also acknowledged that traditional VPN access is not always the most secure route. SecureLink for Enterprises offered a more efficient, streamlined experience, appearing “light years ahead” of other industry leaders.

“It’s a very flexible, scalable solution. It’s a good fit for the fast-paced environment that we have and meets our needs.” — Sasan Poureetezadi, Chief Technology Officer for the Town of Gilbert IT Department

Implementation

When compared to installing a VPN, everyone agreed that SecureLink for Enterprises was easier and took little employee time.

The Town of Gilbert’s Office of Information Technology was even able to set up a second, backup system should access ever be needed during disaster recovery. “Very easy to use, very easy to install. The experience is more streamlined, it’s more lightweight. It takes less time and is more efficient,” said Poureetezadi. “The fact that you don’t have to install a VPN client is a real plus.” SecureLink’s intuitive user interface also made training employees easy. “Anyone can jump in and use it,” said Mejia. “The fact that I can reach over to the next person and say, ‘Hey, I need you to run with this. I need you to set up accounts, and do things,’ and it requires little to no training, was a huge win in our book.”

Results

The Town of Gilbert’s Office of Information Technology noticed improvements right away, with a visible decrease in both hard and soft costs, saving the staff hours of work, and allowing them time and space to focus on strategic initiatives and projects.

Added security from multi-factor adaptable authentication ensured approved network access and provided more peace of mind, which helped productivity. “We’re not worrying about sharing a WebEx session or screen sharing session with someone. This tool allows us the ability to do that, and focus in on those areas. And those are the efficiencies we’re gaining in hours,” said Mejia. High-definition auditing was also a significant benefit, allowing vendors to work around the clock without needing Gilbert’s Office of Information Technology to watch each vendor’s every move. With SecureLink, they will always have an audit trail.

“It’s a great product. The return on investment that you get is a tremendous value that no one else can offer at the moment.” — Eugene Mejia, Deputy Chief Technology Officer, Town of Gilbert IT Department

“SecureLink for Enterprises is lightweight and provides a different approach to remote management,” said Poureetezadi. “The details relative to auditing and access control are really impressive.” In the end, when it comes to decreasing the risk of a breach due to a vendor having too much access, a security product needs to hit what Mejia calls the “trifecta”: Is it secure, is it usable, and is it cost-effective? According to Mejia, SecureLink for Enterprises checks every box.

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"Because of the strategic partnerships with industry leaders like SecureLink and their secure vendor access product, Gilbert can streamline support activities, allowing IT staff to focus more time on the issues that matter. The payoff is better vendor access management and improved services for our customers and citizens."

Mary Goodman, Deputy Town Manager

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